I’m fine. Don’t wait up.
The cold arrogance of the message stunned her. Not about to take it lying down, she called back at once—to be told Noah’s phone was either switched off or out of range. Kit had a very good idea which was true.
So angry she could barely think straight, she put on her running shoes and pounded out her anger on the pavement. Noah still wasn’t back by the time she returned, and all the food had gone cold. Showering, she changed into shorts and a tank top, and making herself a plate, took it out into the garden.
The peace of it soothed her, and made every part of her hurt with stabbing pains. Because if Noah had hit a wall at some point today, then things could well be far worse than him just acting like an asshole to her. She might wake to tabloid reports of him getting drunk or breaking up a place... or fucking some random woman.
Anger burned her throat.
Putting down her fork, she dropped her face in her hands and breathed deep.
Her shoulders grew stiff at that familiar male voice, her emotions caustic. Too furious to look at him, too afraid of what she might see, she forced herself to pick up her fork and eat a bite.
Noah slid onto the bench beside her, moving until his thigh and arm pressed against her own. She smelled sweat, as if he hadn’t showered after the gym, but the rest of it was just Noah. No alcohol, no clinging tobacco smoke, no perfume.
“How mad are you?”
“Depends.” She stared out into the garden. “What did you do?”
“I went to a seedy strip club and sat in the parking lot telling myself that was what I deserved. Not a home, not with you. Just a dirty place I couldn’t ruin with my ugliness, with people who couldn’t give two fucks about me.”
His words made her hurt for him, but she was braced for a blow herself, waiting for him to tell her the rest. Because she’d hit her limit. She’d told him her line in the sand. If he’d crossed it, she wouldn’t be able to forgive him. Not this time.
“I opened the car door to get out,” Noah said, breaking her heart, “and then it hit me what a fucking idiot I was being. I was about to let what that bastard did destroy the best thing in my life. I was about to permanently damage my relationship with a woman who loves me even when I’m a surly, bad-tempered and moody son of a bitch. So I pulled the door shut and hauled ass home.”
He put his hand on the back of her neck, and the touch was oddly tentative for Noah. “So, how long are you going to be mad?”
Relief was a roar of blood through her veins. Not pulling away from his touch because, even with anger lingering inside her, she knew he’d take that as a rejection, she said, “I’ll let you know when I’m not mad anymore.”
He groaned. “Open-ended? That’s cold, Katie.”
Dropping the fork onto her plate, she turned to face him, and then she did what she’d wanted to do since the instant he’d told her he’d shut the car door and come home. She wrapped her arms tight around him. “That’s for coming home,” she said as his own arms wrapped around her so hard she could barely breathe. “The mad is for making me worry and for thinking you couldn’t come back to me just because the demons were awake.”
He shuddered out a breath and then, without prompting, told her what had set him off. “Dumb, huh?”
“No. It just caught you by surprise.” She glared at him. “What’re you going to do the next time something hits you sideways?”
The answer was immediate and so sure she believed it. “Find you.”
“Good.” Pulling back, she looked up into his face. “We need a pool.” She didn’t want to wait six months, wanted Noah to know his place was right here. With her.
His eyes filled with that luminous, astonishing light, his smile delighted as he held her face in his hands and pressed his forehead to hers. “Infinity?”
Melted by that smile no one else in the world ever saw, she fisted her hand in his T-shirt. “I saw one with waterfalls that I like.”
“We can get waterfalls.” A tender kiss followed by a wicked one. “As long as you promise to wear string bikinis and stand under the water.”
“It could be arranged.”
Still smiling, he said, “I need to shower.” He ran his hands down her arms. “I’ve made you sticky too.”
“Want to shower together?”
His eyes widened, and she realized this too would be a brand-new experience for her debauched rock star.
“Yeah,” he said with a slow smile. “Will you soap my back?”